Collaborating with Artists' Estates, Foundations, and Studios

The GCI project team is collaborating with artists', estates, foundations, and studios (EFS) to discuss how these organizations can provide conservation professionals with guidelines for repainting outdoor sculpture. The discussions so far have been focused on how artist estates, foundations, and studios can determine the artworks' visual properties—color, gloss, and texture—and how best to replicate these using available paint resources.

Specifically the project team has been discussing the creation of EFS-approved coupons (a coupon is a substrate with applied paint) to serve as a definitive resource in determining what color a sculpture should be painted. Rather than relying on specific paint products, whose formulations change over time, conservators could use these coupons, upon their approval by the appropriate EFS, to match color, texture, gloss, etc. when undertaking treatment or repainting. Guidelines would be developed to establish how the coupons should be prepared; what type of substrate, preparation parameter, thickness of paint, etc (see Documenting Original Surfaces). In the long term, the goal is to create a repository of paint coupons that could be made available to conservators.

The project team has worked extensively with the Lichtenstein Foundation and the J.P Getty Museum to document Lichtenstein's original paint system for outdoor sculpture and is currently collaborating with the Calder Foundation, the Tony Smith Estate and the Louise Nevelson Foundation on the creation of Foundation-approved paints.

In cases where original paint is no longer available, either on the artwork, as coupons, or in a commercially available product, as is the case for example for Louise Nevelson's black, the project team will explore alternative means to recreate that information, using original studio materials when available, the expertise of Nevelson scholars, and those involved with the fabrication of her sculptures to produce Nevelson Foundation approved coupons.

The GCI is also working with Spacetime C.C, Mark di Suvero's studio, to preempt this problem by gathering information and material evidence on the paints and colors being used by the studio. The project hopes to build on this work to include collaborations with more artists' studios, estates, and foundations in the future.

Banner image: View of the South Fields, Storm King Art Center with works by Mark di Suvero: Pyramidion 1987/1998; Beethoven's Quartet, 2003, For Chris, 1991 lent by the artist and Spacetime C.C., New York. Mon Père, Mon Père, 1973-75; Mother Peace, 1969-1970; and; Jambalaya, 2002-2006, Gift of the Ralph E. Ogden Foundation, Inc., collection of Storm King Art Center, Mountainville, New York. Art: © Mark di Suvero. Photo: Jerry L. Thompson, reproduced courtesy the artist and Storm King Art Center; © Storm King Art Center, Mountainville, New York.

Page updated: January 2015